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High school holds personal, front-yard graduation ceremonies for seniors

Yahoo! Lifestyle logo Yahoo! Lifestyle 5/4/2020 Megan Sims
a person wearing a purple hat talking on a cell phone: Dohn Community High School Director, Ramone Davenport, helped seniors celebrate graduation during quarantine (Photo: Ramone Davenport) © Provided by Yahoo! Lifestyle Dohn Community High School Director, Ramone Davenport, helped seniors celebrate graduation during quarantine (Photo: Ramone Davenport)

An Ohio high school has decided that if it cannot host its seniors for a traditional graduation, it will bring the festivities directly to each and every senior.

Last week, Dohn Community High School in Cincinnati began going door-to-door to present each member of its 2020 class with their diplomas. That’s thanks to the school’s director, Ramone Davenport, who has been with the school for 11 years and tells Yahoo Life that, since the school closed due to coronavirus, he’s been doing his best to stay connected with seniors.

“We’ve been in constant conversation with them...we’re in their ear and we continue to keep them encouraged,” he says.

Davenport adds that he had been planning on holding a larger graduation ceremony for the class of 2020 in August, but admits that he does not know if things will be back to normal by then. So he came up with an idea to honor seniors from the safety of their own homes.

“I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to allow our current state that we’re in to deter these students from moving on to the next level...I’m going to try to put a smile on somebody’s face today,’” he explains.

After already being able to clear six of the seniors for graduation, Davenport, along with a handful of colleagues, went to the students’ homes wearing protective gear. There, with the students in their caps and gowns and surrounded by family, they presented the graduates with their diplomas.

“When I showed up, they were just like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’ And when I went through the small ceremony, I did everything I would do at a big graduation, but I kinda tried to make it feel realistic,” he recalls. “I certified that they met all of the graduation requirements, and they got a chance to turn their tassels.”

a group of people that are standing in the grass: Davenport presents a student with his diploma in front of his home in Cincinnati (Photo: Ramone Davenport) © Provided by Yahoo! Lifestyle Davenport presents a student with his diploma in front of his home in Cincinnati (Photo: Ramone Davenport)

Vic’Tajia Stuckey, one of the six seniors that received her diploma last week, tells Yahoo Life that she was very upset and hurt when she first realized that she would not have a traditional senior year. So it was a happy shock when she found out from her mother, just one day before her graduation, that she’d be getting her diploma.

“I was super happy,” she says. “It felt better than an actual graduation, because I don’t like super big crowds...[and] everybody came out to show love and they made something happen for me because I wasn’t having a graduation.”

a little girl posing for a picture: Vic'Tajia Stuckey poses excitedly with her diploma after graduation ceremony. (Photo: Vic'Tajia Stuckey) © Provided by Yahoo! Lifestyle Vic'Tajia Stuckey poses excitedly with her diploma after graduation ceremony. (Photo: Vic'Tajia Stuckey)

Stuckey, who is set to start nursing school in the fall, adds that, prior to graduation, her family threw her a party to celebrate.

With 250 students in the graduation class, Davenport has his work cut out for him, so he says he plans on continuing these private, door-to-door ceremonies on a rolling basis for all the seniors that meet the requirements.

“The reaction from it, it’s been amazing. To see the parents and the struggles they went through to even get to that point has been amazing. So I feel real good about it,” Davenport says.

Photo Gallery: Proms, graduations and birthdays adapt during coronavirus (USA Today)

The educator not only has a message for his seniors, but seniors everywhere as the world navigates through this uncertain time.

“Don’t let nothing stand in your way,” he advises. “The odds may be against you, and you know you just gotta keep striving, and I promise you if you do that, something good’s going to come out of it.”

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides. 

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